Four villages that are usually besieged by forest and land fires are now participating in a pilot project on forest and land fires management in the regency of Pelalawan in Riau province, Indonesia. These four villages have been selected to participate in the Village Fire Prevention Incentive Programme by PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP), a company in Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL), which is part of the RGE Group owned by Indonesian entrepreneur Sukanto Tanoto.
Community Development Manager of PT RAPP, Lukman, explained that the Village Fire Prevention Incentive Programme was initiated due to the numerous forest and land fires in early 2014, which resulted in the Indonesian government declaring a state of emergency in the Riau province.
“At that time, we noted that the community played a very minimum role in managing the fires,” he said. The company created a reward program called the “Village Fire Prevention Incentive Programme” to encourage the community to actively manage forest and land fires, together with PT RAPP and the Local Government of Pelalawan.
“The four villages are Sering Village of Pelalawan District, Teluk Meranti Village, Teluk Binjai Village and Pulau Muda Village which are in Teluk Meranti District,” he said.
This programme was conducted during the dry season from July to September, when the occurrence of forest fires is higher. If there is no occurrence of forest fires or zero burning during these three months, the villages will be awarded Rp 100 million worth of social assistance.
If in these three months there are occurrences of fires affecting less then 1 hectare of land and which are managed within 24 hours, the village will be given social assistance worth Rp 50 million.
When asked about the field preliminary verification of the four villages, Asril of Pelalawan Disaster Management Agency said, “the fires detected in Teluk Binjai Village affected areas greater than the categories established in the programme. The fire occurrences In Pulau Muda Village affected between 1 to 3 hectares of land. Fires also broke out in Sering Village. The only village that has shown an active effort to prevent fires was Teluk Meranti village.”
Asril explained that the Village Fire Prevention Incentive Program was initiated by PT RAPP and partnered with Environment Agency Pelalawan, Forest Service Pelalawan and Disaster Management Agency Pelalawan. From the evaluation of the forest and land fires that occurred in early 2014, there are seven districts that are susceptible to fires such as Pangkalan Kerinci, Langgam, Relai Awan, Pangkalan Kuras, Bunut, Teluk Meranti and Kuala Kampar.
“We appreciate the programme being initiated by PT RAPP and the participation of the four villages in the pilot project. In addition, we had also formed the Disaster Alert Community comprising five people in each village and 3 people from each district.”